Submitted by Bil 846d ago | article

2011 Salary Report of Game Developers

Curious how much money game developers make? Here is a detailed report of Game Developer Magazine published in 2011 that shows the average salaries of programmers, audio engineers, designers, etc of 2010. Note that this is a report which is published in 2011 but the figures it contains is of 2010 (as 2011 isn't over yet). (3DS, Dev, Industry, Nintendo DS, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PSP, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360)

Hufandpuf  +   846d ago
Impressive numbers, the game industry is the place to be i guess.
SilentNegotiator  +   846d ago

Wow....that's better than I expected. You usually hear bad things. This is some good motivation to keep studying in the field I'm studying! I didn't think design would be so much less than some of the others, though :/ It's more about the passion to me, though.

Still lots of overtime and conditions to consider.
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ABizzel1  +   846d ago
I think it's funny that people are surprised by their salaries. I remember this question came up a long time ago, and some ignorant people believed top the Average "Lead" struggled to make $50,000, even though I told them they make $70,000, and I personally know game developers. But people on n4g talk out the @$$ all the time.
ArmrdChaos  +   846d ago
Yes, but you have to keep in mind that these are salary figures. You really have to look at how much time they actually end up putting into their projects. I am sure that alot of the overtime they have to deal with is uncompensated, so while it looks impressive at first some of the lower end jobs probably make a lot less per hour on the average.
guitarded77  +   845d ago
Yes, it is average salary. I'm currently getting my degree in CS (programming) and I know a lot of programmers (a couple in gaming). Programmers are in high demand, so if they weren't kept happy, they can up and leave to go somewhere like the medical field and make more money with less hours. Many of my programming friends prefer to work outside of gaming so they can live normal 9-5 jobs and we all live outside of Austin where there's plenty of opportunity. I know a few people that work for Blizzard and love it though. They are happy there and the passion for the games keeps them working even when they're at home. Sure, they know they can make more elsewhere, but 100k for a 50-60hr work week isn't anything to frown upon either... especially if you love what you do. Funniest thing is, most everyone I know who works in programming prefers to game on console because they work on computers all the time... and many don't even game that much, coding and logic is enough of a game to them.
TheIneffableBob  +   846d ago
If you want to develop games, yes. But if you just want to make money, there are easier programming jobs that give you as much or even more money than game programmers.

If you want the big bucks and you're a programming expert (like, you're really, REALLY good at programming), you can go into high-frequency trading (HFT) programming and make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, *starting*. Get more experience and you can be paid as high as a million a year. It can be an extremely stressful job, though.
superrey19  +   846d ago
The main problem with working in the game industry is the high competition.
Intentions  +   846d ago
Yeah true.

That's why you aim to work for high profile studios/publisher like Rockstar.

Basically high profile games. which Rockstar manages to do for every game.
kneon  +   846d ago
Actually I thought they were kind of low, you can make more money as a programmer in other industries.
ATi_Elite  +   845d ago
make 2 or 3 games and BAM your making 100K a year.

That's good money!
gotgame1985  +   846d ago
yhea I guess it is I thought abut going to school for it because i started using udk and see how easy it is, I learn
how to do most of every thing without a training video.
Reborn  +   846d ago
Sure, these may be true in some cases. However, salaries vary with company etc.

Plus, I'd have to consider the environment I'd be working in. (Given what usually pops out of the top places)
Guwapo77  +   846d ago
It's pretty obvious companies need to invest more into the QA department...
maniacmayhem  +   846d ago
QA departments are usually the entry positions into the industry. And are usually the biggest department in the company.
Guwapo77  +   846d ago
They very well could be but the fact remains their QA sections aren't doing that well.

Imagine a well paid and experienced Skyrim QA department.
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hay  +   846d ago
@Guwapo77: That wouldn't change a thing. I'm experienced programmer and QA myself. Testers are paid less, there are usually enough of them, but bugs won't fix themselves. I'm pretty sure 90% of those retail Skyrim bugs were "known issues" but there are criteria for fixes.
Some issues might even not surface for even hundred of testers but will for some of the millions of players.
Some might be too much hassle to fix(rewriting much of the code), dangerous(fix might break other things or move project outside the specs), left by lazy coders, or deliberately pushed beyond release date to patch 'cause of deadlines. And managers tend to shit bricks when deadlines are drawing near.
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C_Menz  +   846d ago
Think I chose the wrong career! (Culinary)
dgonza40  +   845d ago
Everyone has to eat, not everybody needs to play videogames :)

In the end, it shouldnt always be about the money, but about your passions
s45gr32  +   846d ago
wooooooaaaaah!!!!!! that is a shit lot of money. Now what is important is the work environment, perks, paid vacation/sick days. If that's as good as the money then is worth getting to work in the videogame industry
manman6  +   846d ago
Nice to know how much developers make a year.
sak500  +   846d ago
I was making 70+K till earlier this month since about last 2 years till i asked to be fired since i hated the new guy who came as my backup and took my position and told me to work under him. I'd rather open my own company now. I was in computer hardware with big name branded MB manufacturer. Well hopefully the settlement should cover half years pay.
Legionaire2005  +   846d ago
Yeah it would be nice to know how much game designers make. I
want to be a game programmer I'm studying game design at Camden
County College one of the cheapest and great schools to learn game design
It's the first school to have a 2 year degree in game design all on new jersey.

Type on my cell phone lol
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ChickeyCantor  +   846d ago
Having knowledge on gamdesign is good. But if you really want to do some programming you are better off with some IT degree. Even better if it's geared towards gaming. Due to the fact you will learn about Algorithms and Data structures, unless of course, you are the type who can learn just by googling.
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kneon  +   846d ago
I have friends in the industry and from what I recall they say math and physics are key skills for many of the programming jobs.

I have degrees in computer science and physics as well as 3d programming experience so I guess I qualify, but it looks like I'd be taking a substantial pay cut if these numbers are typical of salaries in the industry.
ChickeyCantor  +   846d ago

Math and physics are essential. I never excluded them. My point was more that if you really want to do "some" programming. Something geared IT or Game-technology specific is a better choice than gamedesign.( unless gamedesign includes heavy programming subjects... )

I myself am going for a bachelors degree on Game-Technology. It's basically an IT branch for game development.

But yes knowing a large basis of Linear Algebra for physics is most welcome.
My math isn't too great so I'm usually stuck at solving certain problems. But I just have to dig deeper in those books.
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Dark_Overlord  +   846d ago
But remember these people are so hard up due to used game sales, that they need to implement online passes to survive :/

I don't know anyone who earns anywhere near that amount
Ulf  +   846d ago
...so you don't live in LA, or silicon valley, where these salaries are actually kinda mediocre?
hiredhelp  +   846d ago
Thankyou Dark Overlord for that thought as thats how i feel.
But you see that money goes to the bosses in the company's and part to likes of sony and ms for allowing users to purchase threw there systems.

Thats another thing didnt state how much the bosses pocket.
I admire the devs for the hard hours they put in the deadlines they have to meet,But same time these guys grew up gaming dreaming to do there dream job they chose there path. DLC prices,attacks on 2nd hand Market this isnt the devs fault but greedy corps inventing new ways of making fast easy money.
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N311V  +   846d ago
Now I see why everything seems so much cheaper in America. You pay $60 for games where we pay $80-$100 in Australia. Our salaries tend to be higher though so I guess it all balances out.
ChickeyCantor  +   846d ago
Sounds like a great job right?
It's actually tedious work. Working overtime is sh/t.
It's a hard business.
mastershredder  +   846d ago
Indeed. It takes serious dedication and love of this feild. After the corporatization and more recent restructured studio operation/production models (including how profits are distributed), many are getting short handed. Sure if you are starting out you may be in awe making some of the figures seen here. If you have been working this beat for a while, you will think differently.

More money independantly, if you know what you are doing. You have to be more versatile.
SageHonor  +   846d ago
Numbers better than expected but this all varies by industry.
Ulf  +   846d ago
Keep in mind that 90% of game dev jobs are in high cost-of-living areas, where 50k/year is barely enough to get by on your own, and even small apartments cost $900-$1500 per month.
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DFresh  +   846d ago
Good for them though I don't think that's a stable enough career.
If your games runs a risk of not making enough profit then your job is always on the line.
Unless your a 1st party developer for Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo then your job isn't 100% guaranteed even if your doing a good job.
Just saying.
I'm fine playing the games and not making them.
Though seeing all the work that goes into making these awesome games I have a lot of gratitude for what they do.
Looks like a lot of hard work and the long overtime hours look tedious.
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nevin1  +   846d ago
Nice numbers but I bet the hrs they work are insane.
theonlylolking  +   845d ago
Most programming jobs have insane work hours but I do not know about the other fields in game developing.
aquamala  +   846d ago
that's actually not a lot for software engineers, esp in bay area.
wallis  +   846d ago
But of course I can't sell something I own in case I leave these people who earn over 50k annually with nothing to eat.
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DarkBlood  +   846d ago
i used to want to be in the field to make games when i was little but as i grew older and realise how it actually works in the gaming world i gave it up realizing id never actually get to make a game my way
SteveSmith  +   846d ago
This is a well-paid job, however these guys seem to work a crapload of hours from what I have read, like 70+ hours a week.
kornbeaner  +   846d ago
I wonder where they are getting the QA numbers? A baseline tester makes nowhere near these numbers in the gaming industry. VideoGame QA testing is a field so filled, that companies don't bother paying for experience when they can fill 3 chairs with dumbasses instead of paying 1 very well experienced tester. If you want to take up QA, start in videogames as that is the easiest door to enter but start expanding to other fields like dvd/blu-ray testing, hardware testing or other fields where your experience as videogame QA is somewhat more respected and they pay at least 33% more in terms of salary.
killa91606  +   845d ago
Guys, I am trying for an Computer Science degree at an major California state university. Is that smart and is it the basis of being an game designer? An reply would help a lot, thanks.
flyingmunky  +   845d ago
I would say your fine, try to get into some classes that are related to game design though. If all else fails you can always fall back on a programming job at Boeing or some software engineering firm.

Getting an internship at the company you want to work for is a sure way to have a job waiting for you too.
rattletop  +   845d ago
programming job at Boeing? i thought they use services of other companies for software.
SSultan  +   845d ago
I like how everyone is suddenly an expert.
ForROME  +   845d ago
Thats pretty weak I make more than most of them; they deserve more as much as these games makes they should get better %s
Gamerita  +   845d ago
this is slavery when you consider the games these deverlopers make generate 100's of millions of $. without these developers these millions of $ would not be possible so yes i believe the game industry is slavery for developers & daylight robbery too to us gamers.

i applaud IFINITY WARD for splitting from greedy ACTIVISION.more developers should stand up for themselves (my eyes on you rockstar developers you guys make billions of $ for the company & i bet they pay you peanuts,same goes for EA devs..etc).
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Abdou23  +   845d ago
Comparing to the profits those companies make i consider those guys poor.I wonder how much much COD teams gets. and they still release broken games.
DFresh  +   845d ago
Clearly not enough considering members of Infinity Ward were denied their bonuses making Modern Warfare 2.
rattletop  +   845d ago
if only i could go back 4 years. though game programming interested me a LOT i chose mechanical engineering :( now i pursing MBA degree. oh well atleast i am playing games :D

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